How is the Presidential Employment Stimulus Programme supposed to work?

The Presidential Employment Stimulus Programme (PESP) has been marred by a funds scandal. Most recently, the National Arts Council (NAC) overspent their budget within the PESP. Yet, the PESP was supposed to provide financial support to organisations and individuals. So how exactly is the PESP supposed to work? The Daily Vox team decided to take a look at what the stimulus is supposed to do. 

What is the PESP? 

In October 2021, president Cyril Ramaphosa launched the PESP. Its aim was to combat the negative effects brought on by Covid-19 on South Africa’s economy, especially employment. The initial goal was to create or support 800 000 jobs between 2020 and 2021.

The PESP was designed to expand public and social employment. This also meant  protecting existing jobs in vulnerable sectors while supporting enterprise opportunities. The programme’s main strategy is economic recovery. Phase one of the programme had a budget allocation of R14 billion. This phase began in November 2020 and lasted for a year. The employment programmes were designed and funded for implementation with immediate effect.

According to StatsSA youth unemployment is alarmingly high in the country. The official unemployment rate is at 32.6%. The youth unemployment rate (young people aged 15 – 34 years) is at 46.3%. This translates to one in every two young people in the labour market having not had a job in the first quarter of 2021.


COVID-19 increased the already high unemployment in the Matjhabeng municipality

Phase 1 progress

All nine provinces are responsible for the implementation of programmes supported by the PESP. Progress was swift and effective within two months of Ramaphosa’s announcement. Over 400 000 opportunities were created within its initial phases. The presidency’s progress report released December 2020 detailed the outcomes.  

The department of basic education commenced with employing 300 000 people across South Africa. The jobs are in support of educators like general school assistants. It provided crucial employment for youth. Over 2.7 million people applied for these jobs

The NAC and the National Film and Video Foundation rolled out calls to creatives to support the Arts sector.  The department of trade, industry and competition expanded their existing services to enable job creation and business support for youth. The department of public works expanded their public employment programmes most notably with the Welisizwe Rural bridges programme. Through the PESP, 496 engineering graduates were recruited. Of that 496 people, 52% of those women. The project has built bridges in Kwazulu-Natal and the Eastern Cape in the past two years. The department of environment, forestry and fisheries also expanded its existing job programmes. 


Youth Unemployment in South Africa #BeTheDrivingForce 

Phase 2

The second phase was announced in mid-October 2021.  It was specifically addressed at targeting youth unemployment.  The National Treasury allocated R11 billion to support the completion of some of the phase one programmes, and fund a range of new ones. Phase two is also meant to support the Presidential Youth Employment Intervention (PYEI).

Ramaphosa launched the PYEI  in February 2020. Its aim is to provide support and opportunities for unemployed youth. A total of R838 million has been allocated from the stimulus for this. The National Youth Development Agency (NYDA) partnered with the PYEI to launch SA Youth. This is a national network offering young South Africans free access to learning and work opportunities. It is 100% free and connects the youth to work readiness programmes and skills training.


Government portal to provide opportunities for young people


What does the National Youth Development Agency do?

Ramaphosa announced the new NYDA board in early November 2021. He said the agency is crucial in implementing the stimulus and intervention. The board has been named as a vital partner in driving skills development, employment and work experience.

Rob Urquhart from Harambee Youth Employment Accelerator said most online job platforms require high data costs. SA Youth as a free online platform reduces the financial barriers job seekers face. 

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